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Lion Links: 11/23/21

Orlando City’s 2022 opener announced, Rory Dames resigns from the Chicago Red Stars, MLS awards, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at CF Montreal Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Tonight is as important as it gets as Orlando City travels to Nashville SC to try to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals. There’s plenty to talk about today so let’s get straight into it.

Orlando City 2022 Home, Road Openers Announced

We now know the first two games of Orlando City’s 2022 Major League Soccer season. The Lions will open things at home yet again, with a match against CF Montreal on Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. The following week, the Lions will travel to Illinois to take on the Chicago Fire in the hosts’ home opener at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 5. This will be the eighth year in a row that Orlando will kick off its season at home, although it’s the first time that the opening opponent of the year will be Montreal. It’s curious that Orlando is playing the team that it ended the 2021 regular season against in the opener for 2022, but that’s sometimes the way it goes in MLS. It’s worth noting that if he’s still on Montreal’s roster, Rudy Camacho will be unavailable due to the red card he received in the Decision Day game a few weeks ago.

Lions Need Mental Strength Against Nashville

Orlando City will need to be mentally strong against Nashville SC after what happened the last time the two teams played. The Lions gave up an early second-half lead but thought they won the game when Andres Perea poked the ball home deep in stoppage time. The goal was inexplicably disallowed by Allen Chapman and the two points Orlando lost in the eventual draw meant that Orlando finished sixth instead of third, and now have to go on the road to try and avenge the injustice of the Halloween Heist. Lingering feelings from that game will provide plenty of energy and motivation but OCSC needs to channel those emotions in the right way. If it can walk that tightrope properly, however, then it could provide potent fuel for a road upset tonight.

Dames Resigns From Red Stars Amid Allegations

Rory Dames has resigned as the head coach of the Chicago Red Stars, a little under 48 hours after losing the NWSL final to the Washington Spirit. Only one of the league’s 10 teams still has the coach who it started the 2021 season with. James Clarkson of the Houston Dash is the only one still in his position. The Red Stars released a statement at just before midnight Chicago time on Sunday stating that Dames had resigned but things have not ended there.

The Washington Post published an article yesterday afternoon detailing allegations of emotional and verbal abuse against the former coach. Red Stars players had gone to U.S. Soccer in the past and made complaints against Dames, with Christen Press filing a formal complaint against him back in 2018. Dames is now the fifth male NWSL coach to have allegations of misconduct publicly brought against him this year. The NWSL Players Association released the following statement:

Arango, Turner Win MLS Awards

Two more of the MLS end-of-season awards have been announced. New England Revolution shot stopper Matt Turner has been named the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, and LAFC’s Cristian Arango has been named the MLS Newcomer of the Year. For Turner, it’s been a massive year both in MLS and internationally. He helped lead the Revs to the Supporters Shield, while also making his United States Men’s National Team debut and subsequently helped the team win the Gold Cup. Turner had five shutouts on the year and a 1.25 goals-against average across his 28 starts.

Arango also had an excellent, albeit limited, debut season in MLS. The Colombian international scored 14 goals and recorded two assists in his 17 league appearances — a blistering rate of contribution that kept a faltering LAFC in the playoff hunt until the final day. He already has a hat trick to his name and scored the fastest goal in LAFC history, getting a goal after just 20 seconds against Real Salt Lake.

Poch Wants United Job

According to a number of reports, Mauricio Pochettino wants to be the new manager of Manchester United. While it’s been reported so far that United want to wait until the end of the 2021-2022 season to make a permanent appointment, if Pochettino’s interest is concrete then it may change things. The PSG coach is apparently the Red Devils’ top target, and it’s unclear whether he would be interested in taking charge immediately or wants to wait until the end of the season to do so. Much of the reasoning behind reports of United wanting to wait until the end of the season to make a hire hinged on the fact that there was no top tier coach available and wanting to step in right away. The prevailing thought is that he’s unlikely to leave in the middle of a Champions League campaign while coaching a team with Neymar, Lionel Messi, and Kylian Mbappe in it, but you never know.

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That does it for me today. Vamos Orlando!